Scotland must do more to drive down transport emissions

Scotland must intensify its efforts to reduce harmful emissions from transport if it is to achieve its decarbonisation goal by 2050, according to a Climate Change Committee progress report published today.

Transport (all modes) contributes 28% to Scotland’s overall emissions and decarbonising the sector is of “particular importance” to achieving the country’s target of reducing greenhouse gas output by at least 80% by 2050 (relative to 1990).

While HGV emissions, which account for 17% of Scottish transport emissions, remained fairly static between 2009 and 2014, van emissions, which make up 12% of transport emissions, have seen a  steady annual increase during the period.

Van emissions as of 2014 were 61% higher than 1990 levels (while HGVs emissions have fallen 10% thanks to advances in engine technology).

Ambitions

The report recommends Scotland “could implement more ambitious policies than the rest of the UK in order to reduce transport emissions more rapidly”.

These include local authority-led strategies that could encourage more efficiency of freight operations through increased loadfill, driver training, creation of urban consolidation hubs and use of planning policy to build more intermodal freight exchanges to encourage modal shift.

In addition, increased use of low-emission zones could deter higher polluting vehicles, with long-term consideration of road tolling something to be considered to achieve greater emissions reductions.

The FTA said the logistics industry would need the full support of the Scottish Government in order to achieve decarbonisation, as operators face many infrastructure and cost barriers when looking to make the switch to alternative fuels.

Rachael Dillon, FTA climate change policy manager, said: “As fuel represents around a third of a fleet’s operating costs, industry is already taking significant steps to improve fuel and carbon efficiency.

“LEZs can reduce air pollutants by tightening up the use of cleaner vehicles but they can create significant cost burdens, especially for small businesses.

“Scottish cities will still need the same number of vehicles to deliver essential goods, so LEZs would have little effect on the vehicle numbers or levels of congestion.”

The use of consolidation centres is also challenging at present, she said, as they often have to be subsidised by local authorities to remain viable.